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Comey on Affecting Election; Comey Testifies Before Senate; Health Care Vote Tomorrow; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you so much.

Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for watching CNN on this Wednesday.

We are juggling quite a bit this afternoon here. We're waiting for multiple major live events to happen at any moment.

So, first up, at the White House, Sean Spicer will be holding his daily briefing momentarily as the president is taking personal steps to advance Republicans' plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. So we'll take that when we see Sean Spicer behind that podium.

Also, we're watching Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You have the Department of Justice today about to officially announce if it will charge those officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling. Sterling was shot by police outside of a convenience store in Louisiana last July. A lot of unrest last summer around that story, so we're watching the community very closely there.

As we wait, other developments unfolding in the last couple of hours at the White House. Could the press secretary, Sean Spicer, walk out with news of progress in the struggle to repeal and replace Obamacare? We know today that two key lawmakers have gone from "no" votes to "yes" votes after a meeting with the president. So we'll go and get reaction on how they - how they pivoted from "no's" to "yes'" and who else remains.

I can also tell you the vice president, Mike Pence, is heading to Capitol Hill this hour to talk to lawmakers about health care. So we're watching that for you.

Also, President Trump just met with the Palestinian president who said he has new hope for peace because of President Trump.

And then there is the head of the FBI on Capitol Hill today testifying for hours and hours. This is one day after we saw Hillary Clinton saying that Director Comey played a major part in her bruising election defeat. Jim Comey stuck by his decision to reveal reopening the investigation involving Hillary Clinton's e-mails 11 days before Election Day. Here he was.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There's an election in 11 days. Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And, honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team, we've got to walk into the world of really bad.

Look, this was terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But, honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28th with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do. Would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices, that even in hindsight - and this has been one of the world's post painful experiences - I would make the same decision.


BALDWIN: All right, so as we wait for the White House briefing to begin, let's talk about that testimony today. Let's begin with CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

And, Jim, I know the headline that this, you know, resonating is the - is the mildly nauseous line, I think, that, you know, what he chose to do could have some impact on the election. But, again, he said, it honestly wouldn't change the decision. Talk to me through how he chose to go public on that, but not on the probe into Mr. Trump and his associates and Russian ties.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, he twisted himself into knots a little bit making the distinction - or at least trying to make clear the distinction that he made between the Clinton probe and the Trump campaign/Russia probe. His essential argument was time. That the Trump probe was too much in its early stages, in his words - he made the point that it was only opened in July. The Clinton probe had been started months before. He said he didn't comment on it until it was three months in, in effect. Plus, it was already public, so he felt compelled or he felt that he had more freedom to comment on it. The Trump probe was still early on and he said he didn't know what the final word would be. And then he said, because of that distinction, he feels that he still held true to that well-known FBI principle he's often talked about, and others have, that they don't comment on active investigations.

Now, the trouble is, yes, the time was a bit different, a few months off, but they were both still active investigations, right, and it was - both of them were still taking place in an election year -


SCIUTTO: Which is another rule that law enforcement, FBI has followed in the past, not to comment very close to an election. But, again, you heard his sound there saying, listen, he had a tough choice. They got new information about these other e-mails, as you remember, on Anthony Weiner's computer, of all places, because he was married to Huma Abedin. They got that new information and he's like, listen, if I go public with it, I'll going to get grief. If I don't go public with it after the election people are going to say I was hiding stuff. And he said that he's comfortable that he made the right - the right decision on a very difficult choice.

[14:05:03] One more point I would make, Brooke, and I found this truly remarkable. You'll remember that famous press conference he had where he went to the cameras and said, listen, we've looked into this. I'm not going to charge her. She was definitely reckless, but I'm not going to charge her -


SCIUTTO: Because no prosecutor would bring a case. You remember that?


SCIUTTO: He said one reasons he went to the cameras is that he felt the senior DOJ leadership, the Department of Justice leadership, Attorney General Lynch and others, could not credibly complete, in his words, the investigation. He was saying, indicating that they were somehow biased, and he felt that even before that famous tarmac meeting between Clinton and Lynch. That's a remarkable thing for an FBI director to say. He's saying, in effect, that Lynch and others were biased and couldn't allow that investigation to reach its conclusion by themselves, so he felt the need to go to the cameras. It's a remarkable charge from him.

BALDWIN: On the credibility of the Justice Department.

Jim, don't go too far.

Let me, though, pivot over to Capitol Hill to Manu Raju, who I know is getting reaction from members of Congress, including - I know you have Senator Blumenthal there next to you.

Go ahead, Manu. What's he have to say?


Yes, talking to Senator Blumenthal, a member of the committee.

What's your reaction to Director Comey saying that he didn't want to look like he was concealing potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which is why that he unveiled this - revealed this information just days before the election?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I accept his contention that he faced a very difficult choice between a very bad alternative and a catastrophic alternative. But the important question is, how do we remove the taint and the question going forward about his objectivity, about the questions that may be raised by the Department of Justice? And I think his testimony makes an overwhelmingly powerful case for appointment of an independent special prosecutor because that's the way that we can avoid this situation in the future. And that, I think, is the lesson to be taken away from the choice that he faced.

RAJU: He also tried to make the case that he wasn't going to disclose this Russia investigation that they launched last July because it was in a different timeframe. It wasn't as advanced as the Clinton e-mail investigation. Do you accept his reasoning, why he did not publicly disclosed the Trump investigation last year?

BLUMENTHAL: Taking his logic that the Clinton investigation was one of intense, public interest, his words. The Russian investigation, in my view, was exactly the same. And so I think, going forward, he has to make a report to the American people about the findings, not only about that Russian meddling investigation, but also the Trump ties to it, the potential collusion and cooperation between associates in the Trump campaign and that Russian meddling, which I think is profoundly a matter of intense public interest.

RAJU: Should he have revealed the Trump investigation, the Russia investigation, last year as well?

BLUMENTHAL: That's the choice I would have made as a prosecutor, as a public official. To me, that investigation was equally of intense public interest.

RAJU: And, going forward, do you have full confidence in Director Comey as the FBI director and as this investigation is going forward into Russia and the Trump campaign?

BLUMENTHAL: I have confidence that Director Comey and the FBI, as an institution, will pursue this investigation. But the only way to make sure and to assure public confidence and trust is for an independent special prosecutor, not a Trump appoint to be in charge of that investigation and make the ultimate decision because if it is Director Comey or the deputy attorney general, who's an appointee of the president, the public can in no way be assured that there is complete objectivity and independence.

RAJU: Last question and I'll let you go, senator. One thing that he did also reveal was that Loretta Lynch's decision to meet with Bill Clinton on the tarmac last year was one reason why he decided to go public with this investigation. When you look back at it, was that a - how big of a mistake, in your view, was it for Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch to meet and do you buy what Director Comey says, that that's the reason why he had to reveal this publically?

BLUMENTHAL: It may have been inadvertent, but it certainly was unfortunate. And I can well understand Director Comey's reaction to it, that there needed to be a distance between the attorney general, who met with former President Clinton, and the decision as to whether or not to prosecute.

RAJU: OK. All right, senator, thanks for your time.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

RAJU: Brooke, back to you.

BALDWIN: Awesome. Manu, thank you so much. Senator Blumenthal, thank you as well.

Just getting lots of voices to respond to all of what we heard from the FBI director, including Jen Psaki. He's with us now, CNN political commentator, a former Obama White House communications director.

BALDWIN: Jen Psaki, you sat through all of that testimony.


BALDWIN: Good to see you.

PSAKI: I did.

[14:10:02] BALDWIN: We heard from Hillary Clinton just yesterday saying that she believes essentially what Comey did was roughly a third of the reason why she lost. Your response, please, ma'am?

PSAKI: Well, there's a lot to unpack there, Brooke. I would say that my response to the testimony today is, there's an alarming level of inconsistency and what Director Comey is saying about why he released information about Hillary Clinton - the investigation into Hillary Clinton's aides and why he did not release information about the investigation into Donald Trump's aides. Yes, they were different timelines, but they were all during the election. And, ultimately, we don't know how much it impacted, but it certainly had an impact.

As it relates to Hillary Clinton's comments yesterday, was the FBI comments of Comey during the election and the Russia intervention a factor in the election? Absolutely. But I think if Democrats, if people close to Hillary Clinton who are going to stay in politics don't take from this election that there are a lot other - of other failings, including where we didn't campaign, the fact that there wasn't polling in swing middle of the country states, the fact that Democrats failed to have an economic message that connected with people, then we're really missing an opportunity and we're really putting our heads in the sand to our own detriment.

BALDWIN: I would like to come back to you on also Director Comey's comments on worrying about, you know, the biases of, say, Loretta Lynch and that meeting with the nominee's husband on the tarmac -


BALDWIN: And how that then, he said, led him to go to those cameras.

But hang tight, Jen Psaki, because I need to talk health care. Let's pivot to this other story quickly here.

We're getting new details now on the potential for a vote on health care. I've got Phil Mattingly standing by up on Capitol Hill.

Phil, what are you learning? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think the top line

that really matters, Brooke, is this, House Republican leaders have made very clear, when they have the votes, they will have the vote. And at this point they still don't have the votes. But the reality is this, they are targeting a vote as soon as tomorrow.


MATTINGLY: Now, it's worth noting, members are expected to go home for recess Thursday afternoon. They will be leaving town, at least that's the current schedule. And House leadership and the White House desperately wants to try and have this health care vote before that happens. They don't want their members to go home and face angry constituents, face town halls, let this proposal that's currently out there linger.

And that's why, Brooke, what's happened over the course of the last 12 to 16 hours is very important. We saw this morning two key members, Billy Long, a congressman from Missouri, and Fred Upton, a congressman from Michigan, both of whom were firmly in the "no" camp on this new language that's come out, agreed to an amendment with the White House, with House leadership, that they say addresses their concerns about what the language that's been kicking around up here would do to the price protections related to pre-existing conditions.

Now, there's a lot of questions about whether the money that will be added through that amendment, $8 billion total, will actually address the problem at all, whether it will be nearly enough. But those were the first two major "no" votes to move into the "yes" category, giving some momentum to this bill.

Now, Brooke, here's what's happening behind the scenes and why people are really starting to look to tomorrow as a possibility. There is a full-on blitz going on between the White House, House leaders with rank and file members trying to get those undecided members and maybe those lean "no" members to come back over to their side. Vice President Mike Pence will be up on The Hill shortly. Speaker Paul Ryan has been meeting one-on-one with several members over the course of the last couple of hours. I've been standing outside of his office. It's basically just a steady stream of those who have been undecided or not quite committed to this bill up to this point.

What they're trying to do is get themselves settled on at least being comfortable with the fact that they can get to that 216 votes that they need to move this forward. I would characterize it as this. There is cautious optimism right now amongst senior Republican leaders that they can get there, but I would also hedge it with this. We've been here before many times to the point where they've actually -

BALDWIN: It's like "Groundhog Day."

MATTINGLY: Exactly, where they've actually scheduled the vote and then pulled the vote, and scheduled the vote again and then pulled the vote again. So I think caution is necessary here. They certainly don't have the votes yet. But this morning was a big development. They do feel like they're headed in the right direction. The big question, though, remains, have they done enough to address the concerns, the very real concerns about what this bill would do to those price protections related to those with pre-existing conditions. As of now, we haven't seen any other major flips from "no" votes to "yes." There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly, keep banging on those doors. Thank you so much for all the incremental developments there up on The Hill.

I've got Gloria Borger and Caitlin Huey-Burns here with me to walk through some of these developments. And also, you know, let's be honest, this is also, Gloria, the president's personal touch, having the two members over to the White House and whether it's, you know, his personal negotiating is helping or hurting his cause, why should we believe this is going to work this time?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know. I - we - we honestly don't know. I - look, it's down to a few votes and you never know in Congress until you have a final count. And I think what Paul Ryan is trying to do is get that count. But, you know, the - the laws of physics, Newton laws of physics, you know, for every action there's an equal and opposite action.

[14:15:14] BALDWIN: That's right.

BORGER: And that would be the Freedom Caucus versus the moderates, the Tuesday Group. And so if you win a moderate, you're going to lose a conservative, potentially. I know they are trying to kind of walk that line and work it out, but I think the problem now has become a real public relations problem for them in their districts because if some of them go home with nothing, they're going to get blamed, and if some of them go home with something they're going to get blamed for taking away guarantees of pre-existing conditions. So I think this is a very, very tough vote for those Republicans, particularly since they know this is going to be changed in the United States Senate.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

BORGER: So they're going out on a limb for - for what?

BALDWIN: I think that's a great point. And, Caitlin, it's almost like these members of Congress have to determine whether they want to sort of rebuff their constituents back home -


BALDWIN: Or rebuff the president.

HUEY-BURNS: Right. Exactly.

And Gloria brings up an important point, which is, even just to get this through the House, there is certainly an uphill battle in the Senate. So you do have a lot of lawmakers - everybody in the House is up for re-election. Do people want to stick their necks out on the line for a policy that the White House and the presidents haven't really campaigned on the substance of yet. Remember, they are talking about this bill really in kind of strategic terms. Look, we have to repeal Obamacare because we promised we would do so.

BALDWIN: It's been a promise that they've made for year and years.



HUEY-BURNS: But they've never really talked about the substance and the policy, what they would get - be giving to people. So Democrats are able to frame this as, look, they're trying to take away your health care, they're not really on board with a lot of this stuff, they haven't been able to sell the actual - what they'd be giving to people in this bill. And pre-existing conditions, the president campaigned on preserving these. There are a lot of questions about whether this new - this new amendment actually does that.

BALDWIN: To Gloria's point on the Newton law of physics, if you, you know, add that in, you know that the - the - those, you know, House Freedom Caucus votes, those who are really conservative, are saying, well, hang on a second, we want this pure. We don't want Obama lite, right?

HUEY-BURNS: Right. Exactly.

BALDWIN: We want this purely repealed and replaced.

HUEY-BURNS: Right. And then - so it is kind of the see-saw kind of thing.


HUEY-BURNS: And when you get the Freedom Caucus on board, then you start hemorrhaging moderate members. And Freedom Caucus members are - I guess they're up for re-election there in very safe, conservative districts. I think their actions on the health care battle have really proved that they are not concerned really about their own re-election. Moderates, on the other hand, you have 25, I think, Republicans from Clinton districts up for re-elections, of course. That's a tougher sell for them back home.

BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly, I think I still have you with us, and this is all reminiscent of was it - was it just 24 hours ago and Congressman Darrell Issa, you know, being asked by a reporter, well, you know, sir, how will you be voting and he said, none of your business, right? Is that what you're getting from these members?

MATTINGLY: Yes. Yes. First and foremost, it is our business. We actually let your constituents know what exactly you're talking about.


MATTINGLY: No, but I think that actually was really kind of indicative of what a lot of members are going through right now. A lot of members are staying undecided because they don't want to have to either cast this vote, which they know could be very politically damaging, so they don't want to get out in front of this before they know there's actually going to be a vote. A lot of members had that happen to them last time, come out, say where they stood on this very controversial, very politically dangerous measure and then the vote was pulled from the floor and they were left hanging out there.

So there's a lot of members that are saying - staying undecided, keeping their powder dry until they know for sure that something is coming to the floor. But there's also a calculation here of, there's a lot of members who would like to be "no" on this bill, but if leadership asks them to come across to give them that 216th vote, they will likely do it. so until they are asked explicitly likely on the House floor as this vote is going on to be the one to kind of walk the plank, if you will, on this bill that, as Caitlin makes very clear, might not move anywhere in the Senate, they want to try and keep their powder dry. So I think it's going to be very fluid right now as we try and figure out where everybody actually stands on this. Everybody's public whip counts are a little bit up in the air at the moment. But I think leaders behind the scenes are really trying to walk through this, really trying to get their members comfortable with it.

And, Brooke, just real quick, because I think this is an important point. Adding money to this, adding $8 billion, does not shift the paradigm. It doesn't change the dynamic. This is basically an incentive for members who wanted to get to "yes" to go home and say, look, we got more money for this. When it comes to pre-existing conditions, we worked, we fought, we got a fix, we got additional money for that. If pre-existing conditions, if removing community rating for any state that opts out, which is what this would do, is a big ideological concern that you will forever have problems with, adding $8 billion to this bill does not answer that problem. It doesn't assuage those concern? So the big question now is, how many members really wanted to get to "yes" and just wanted an excuse to get there, or how many are just deeply opposed to this ideologically or kind of on the merits altogether? The answer to that question will determine whether or not this bill actually passes the House or not.

[14:20:09] BALDWIN: Gloria, why do you think the president, just to Caitlin's point about, you know, keeping a promise to his voters, why isn't the president more front and center on this issue?

BORGER: Because he lost one time and he wants to win again, once, and he's not sure where that turns out. You know, he's not - he's not sure at this point whether to use the carrot or the stick. You see him doing both. And it's not like he's at 70 percent popularity in the country. He's at 44, 45 percent popularity in the country. In some of these districts, these conservative districts, he's very popular. In some of these moderate districts, not so much. And so I think they're trying to gauge, you know, how to - how to handle this because he doesn't have a lot of people around him with a lot of experience, by the way, doing this. And as I think that - that they're sort of - they're freelancing as they go - as they go along here and it's unclear to me what the president is saying, you know, in these private conversations.

But taking the step back, I remember John Boehner saying, who is no longer speaker precisely because of health care.

BALDWIN: Right. Right.

BORGER: Saying, Republicans had never known what they believe or what they agree on, on health care reform and they never will. And he was 100 percent right and has been proven so time and time again. And it was very easy for Republicans to vote for repeal and replace when they knew that it wasn't going anywhere. And they knew they had a Democratic president who would veto anything should it ever really get past the Congress. So, you know, this is something that's not new to Republicans. They've had a long time to work on it. And now this is reality for them.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh.

Jen Psaki, let me pivot back over to you and just staying on this topic of health care. I mean, you know, this was your former boss', one of his signature pieces of legislation during his two terms in the White House. And just watching all of this, I remember before the president - before President Obama left, I want to say he went up to The Hill and he said to Democrats, hey, let Republicans - let this implode, right? What is it like right now to walk - you know, for Democrats, to watch this time and time again and not still getting the vote through?

PSAKI: Well, if you would have told me the day after the election that Obamacare would be alive and well in the beginning of May, I would have not taken that bet and I would have argued against you.

So the reality here is that health care is hard. Nancy Pelosi deserves a great deal of credit for pulling Democrats together years ago. Democrats aren't always entirely aligned on this issue either. What's interesting, as I'm watching this play out, is that they don't seem to have learned the lesson of the power of moderates the first time this failed. And there was an assumption going to the negotiations that moderates would all vote together. Moderates are the members who are going to feel the most political pain at home. And, believe me, there are Democrats who are running for office who are waiting, they are just chomping at the bit for moderate members to vote for this. So the fact that they underestimated that is really surprising to me.

BALDWIN: I'm listening to you, Jen, but I'm also looking - I just caught - this caught my eye. We've got now the vice president is officially on Capitol Hill to try to push for some more of those votes.

Phil Mattingly, let me just go to you on The Hill.

I mean, you know, I'm sure he is - they're capitalizing on the vice president's time in Congress and his ability to, you know, persuade folks from "no's" to "yes'". Do you know who he's meeting with, how he's going to pull this off?

MATTINGLY: At least over the course - he was up here yesterday as well, Brooke. He's been meeting with moderate members, some who were outright no's and weren't changed by meeting with him. But I think the White House views this and it's worth noting the president has been on the phone. I've talked to a number of members who have heard from the president over the course of the last 24 hours. The Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, he has been working to try and answer policy questions and concerns as well. The White House recognizes here I think that this is a very, very key moment. We've said it's a do or die moment multiple times over the course of the last couple of months, but I think when you look forward to the agenda, what they actually want to accomplish, the White House grasps, and the House leadership does as well, that this is really their opportunity. There's no going back to the drawing board on this. And because of that, you send the vice president up.

Now, it's worth noting, when Mike Pence was a member of Congress, he was a very conservative member of Congress who wasn't exactly the guy striking a lot of back room deals. And at least up to this point, he hasn't been the guy who's been able to close the deal. But it's worth noting, and I hear this from Republican members constantly, they appreciate his knowledge of the chamber, they appreciate his knowledge of the institution. And, Brooke, they feel like he understands what they're saying. The big question now, can he deliver?

BALDWIN: All right, Phil.

[14:25:00] And from Capitol Hill to the White House. Here's Sean Spicer.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As you know, the president has been talking to members of Congress the last few days about the American Health Care Act up through this morning. The vice president just left a bit ago to meet with some of the lawmakers on Capitol Hill about health care the rest of the president's legislative agenda.

The president was glad to meet this morning with Representatives Long and Upton, who voiced their support for the HCA earlier this morning.

It's especially important that we continue to make progress on repealing and replacing Obamacare as rates skyrocket and insurers keep fleeing the market around the country in anticipation of this impending implosion.

Earlier this week, Aetna announced that it will scale back its presence on Obamacare exchanges even further in 2018, withdrawing from the Iowa exchange. Aetna had already cut its participation in the exchanges from 15 states to four in 2017.

Iowa is going to be hit particularly hard by these recent developments as Medica, the last insurance for most of the state, also announced this week that it will likely stop selling individual health care policies in the state which will affect tens of thousands of Americans.

With reports like these seemingly coming every day, it couldn't be clearer that it's time for action on health care. We're glad that so many members are with us and look forward to welcoming even more on board.

Also earlier today, the president dropped by an event focusing on school choice that was hosted by the vice president and Secretary DeVos, with students ranging from kindergarten to high school. Most of the students who visited the White House today are some of the thousands of local children who will benefit from a three-year extension of the D.C. School Choice scholarships secured by the president and congressional allies in the budget deal.

The District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was launched in 2004, provides vouchers to D.C. students whose family either receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, or earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

And this program gets results. Last year, 69 percent of D.C. public school students graduated from high school. That's compared to an incredible 98 percent of the D.C. Scholarship students who received their high school diplomas last year.

Funding for the Opportunity Scholarship was one of our priorities during these budget negotiations and the Trump administration is glad to have ensured that the program's extension was taken care of through this appropriations bill on top of the increases in military spending and funding for border security.

Today, the president welcomed the president of the Palestinian Authority to the White House for an official visit. The visit stemmed from a phone call the two leaders had on March 10th, when President Trump invited President Abbas to Washington so they could discuss in person ways to move forward on a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The two leaders made their own statements just a little bit ago. But to give you a few additional details, some of the topics that were discussed during their meeting and the lunch were advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace, preventing incitements to violence particularly in media outlets directly associated with Palestinian Authority, strengthening efforts to combat terrorism including defeating ISIS, measures to empower the Palestinian economy and provide economic opportunity for the Palestinian people.

And additionally, the president raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue.

Later this evening, the president, along with the Vice President and Mrs. Pence, will host members of the White House Evangelical Advisory Board in the residence for a discussion, prayer and dinner. The president is proud to welcome these faith leaders to the White House for the first time, and thanked them for their steadfast support ahead of the National Day of Prayer which is tomorrow.

Later tonight, the vice president will also deliver a keynote address at the Susan B. Anthony List 2017 Campaign for Life Gala. The vice president's office has more details on that.

And with that, I'll take your questions.


QUESTION: Sean, on health care, does the president feel like we've reached an inflection point here with the House? Is this a make-or- break moment in terms of getting the bill through the House? And what precisely is the president doing and what arguments are -- is he making to members on why they should support this bill?

SPICER: Well, I think he's making several points. One is the need -- that Obamacare is failing. And that as I just mentioned with Aetna, in so many cases around the country, the need to have a provider is becoming greater and greater. Two is that costs are out of control. These are two basic tenets that you've heard us talk about. But I think overall, the efforts that were made and continue, especially the effort this morning with Congressmen Long and Upton, helped bring more people into this effort and make it even a stronger bill, and ensure that Americans have a health care system that gets them the care that they need at a price that's affordable.

QUESTION: And is this a now-or-never kind of moment, though, with the bill in terms of the House?

SPICER: I don't want to put it there. I'm not - I mean the president's made it clear before he's trying to set a certain.